Should You Use Google Shopping Campaigns?

September 16, 2016

If you sell products online, Google Shopping Campaigns are quickly becoming a must-try traffic source. Google Shopping Ads, also known as Product Listing Ads, are specifically tailored to ecommerce stores.   If you’re thinking about making the move to Google Shopping Ads or looking for ways to optimize your Shopping Ad strategy, this guide will help you make the most of your ad spend.  

Google Shopping Ad Benefits

Revenue from Google Shopping grew 52% in the first quarter of 2016. Business Insider  Google Shopping Campaign clicks grew 62% in Q4 of 2015 compared to year before. Merkle Research  Retailers spent 47% more on Google Shopping ads in 2015.  Adobe Digital Index

If you’re running text ads and wondering if it’s worth your while to add or replace with Google Shopping Ads, there are several differences to consider.  Most ecommerce stores using Google Shopping Campaigns find they better qualify potential shoppers with the following factors unique to Shopping Ads.   Product Image: Shoppers searching for a specific item online can see a product image, which is being pulled from your feed and displayed directly on the search engine results page.  

Google Shopping Ad Benefits

Price: Unlike traditional text ads, Google Shopping Campaigns list the price of each product below the image. This is an additional factor in qualifying your potential buyer since anyone who clicks on the ad has liked what they’ve seen so far in terms of price and appearance.  Relevant Content: Qualified shoppers who click on your Shopping Campaign should land on a relevant product page with more detailed information on the Product Ad they clicked on. This will naturally increase the potential of converting a search into a sale.    Google shopping campaigns also offer ecommerce advertisers more advanced reporting capabilities with the ability to view data based on category, product type, brand and item ID.

Should My Store Use Google Shopping Campaigns?

Online shoppers today tend to spend quite a bit of time researching and reviewing their options before making a decision to buy.  Text Ads are often displayed to shoppers who are in the early stages of the buying cycle and may not be ready to purchase. Shopping Ads, on the other hand, are usually served to shoppers looking to purchase items rather than research. Utilizing both is a good way to ensure you’re reaching potential buyers at every stage of the sales cycle.   Here are other factors to help you decide which ad channel is best for your ecommerce store or how much of your budget to allocate to each.

  • Google Shopping Ads are good for sites with a large volume of products. If your site sells 500 products, you would ideally have one ad for each product and have a landing page for each product with product details. Setting up the same scenario in AdWords would be complicated and much more time-consuming to manage.
  • Google Shopping Campaigns usually lead to much higher click through rates but more clicks means more of your ad budget is spent. They are also generally less expensive per click, but there is more competition.
  • Google Shopping Campaigns are easier to manage while Google AdWords allow for greater control and flexibility.
  • Google AdWords is better for branding, messaging, and promotions.

Google Shopping Campaigns How-To:

New to Google Shopping? Keep reading for tips to get started then continue for information on optimizing shopping campaigns.  Already using Google Shopping Campaigns? Skip the Getting Started section and read below to optimize your efforts and grow revenue.  

Getting Started with Google Shopping Ads

There are two platforms that facilitate Google Shopping Ads: Google AdWords and the Google Merchant Center.   The Merchant Center is where all of the relevant data about your products will live, such as: product titles, descriptions, sizes, image and price.   AdWords is where you will set up and manage the bids and budgets of your campaigns, similar to what you are used to doing for traditional text ads.   One difference you’ll notice is with shopping or product listing ads, you won’t be choosing keywords. Instead, you’ll set a bid on your products and Google will decide what keywords are relevant based on your data feed.   This AdWords tutorial walks you through the basics of setting up and managing Shopping Campaigns and Shopping Ads.  

Optimizing Google Shopping Ads

Google designed shopping campaigns to be flexible enough to meet the advertising goals of most retailers. But there are additional strategies you can use to optimize and customize your campaigns.   One area you can optimize is driving traffic to your Shopping Ad Campaign. The auto bid strategy ‘Maximize Clicks’ is one way to do this. It will automatically adjust your bid so you can get the most clicks out of your budget. All you have to do is opt in to your shopping campaign settings.   Another feature is the budget simulator, which is found in the campaign tab. As CPCs rise, your budget may not be enough to keep your ads on throughout the day. Use the budget simulator to help capture this demand.  


 The second area that can be fine tuned is optimizing your shopping campaign returns. Assuming your goal is to maximize conversions, you’ll want to focus optimization efforts on your top spending merchandise.   This video guide walks you through the steps you can take to drive traffic and optimize spend and conversions.  


 As we mentioned earlier, Google Shopping Campaigns don’t utilize keywords, instead Google displays an ad from your product feed based on the item that best matches the shoppers query. Similar to SEO page titles, your product titles and descriptions in your feed should be written with targeted keywords in mind.  Just like Google AdWords, Shopping campaigns need a lot of attention beyond the initial setup to ensure you are getting the most return for your ad dollars. Use these optimization tactics and regularly monitor ad performance for the best results.

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